Review: Down - Down IV, Pt. 1 - The Purple EP

Band: Down
Album: "Down IV, Pt. 1 - The Purple EP"
Style: Southern Metal
Release date: 2012-09-18
Origin: United States

1. Levitation
2. Witchtripper
3. Open Coffins
4. The Curse is a Lie
5. This Work is Timeless
6. Misfortune Teller

Down is a band that I've never heard before, though I've certainly heard about them a lot and I am quite familiar with the members' other CV's including Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod and Crowbar, to name a few. The genre they operate within sounds quite corny to my ears, but I reckon that since I got used to genres such as "epic heathen metal", "avantgarde art metal" and "Hollywood metal" (hello, a certain Italian band), I might as well accept "southern metal" as well. I think I have an idea of how this will sound though; I'm betting my money on some sort of doom metal, combined with stoner-, heavy metal and a healthy dose of Black Sabbath - done in some sort of southern Louisiana-drug-hazed style.

As the first track "Levitation" slowly comes crushing into my speakers, I hear that I wasn't completely inaccurate in my crystal ball-telling. It's doomy alright, and it doesn't sound very modern either. It's more in the stoner-direction of doom rather than somewhere near My Dying Bride or latter-day Candlemass. So yeah, it's all catchy and things are grooving along alright, but there's nothing outstanding with the basic slab of music in my opinion. I've always liked Phil Anselmo's voice and here he sounds more vital than I've heard him in a long time, but them vocals are quite high up in the mix. I sort of prefer that though, but I can imagine that there's tons of people that will complain about that. Anyway, once I've heard the track a couple of times, the chorus kind of got stuck in my head which is always a good thing in my book. Too bad the verses are quite boring though.

For a band that does this sort of metal, the average length of the songs here are quite short and "Witchtripper" is with it's 3.49 minutes the second shortest. The song itself is kind of built up the same way as the first one, since there are quite boring verses in where Phil rather talks than sings. The chorus is simply built up by the man repeating the title a couple of times. I would have thought that "Witchtripper" would be a more up-tempo rocker compared to "Levitation", but it is just more of the same, just only like 2 minutes shorter. There's a boring guitar solo in here as well, but it does not grab my attention like it should. Which could be said about the entire song as well.

The 3rd track begins straight away with a much anticipated groove in where Phil sings really good. Although pummeling away in the same tempo all of it's 5.43 minutes, the band manages to keep me interested all the way through - I assume this has to do with the fact that the members should be quite the songwriters by now. Given their combined CV's that is.

"The Curse" starts with nonsense-riffing which sounds completely pointless. As the song eventually grows into some meaningful doom metal, it's still quite plodding and lacks any real direction in my opinion. It's skillfully played and all, but talent means only so much when the music isn't any more interesting than this.

On "The Work is Timeless", we finally get a little bit more uptempo which feels like a breath of fresh air after hearing four songs with basically the same tempo. Not much though, but this actually felt like a slow Pantera-song - minus the shredding from Dimebag of course. It's somewhat of a curse that Phil's voice is so deeply connected to the biggest band he's been in. At least to me it is, so I will always hear a little Pantera here and there, apparently oblivious to the fact that it doesn't.

Down decided to end this EP with a 9+ minute-song called "Misfortune Teller". I sincerely hope it is good, because that might be the only salvation here. It begins very groovy and pummels along in a nice midtempo and here Phil manages to break free from my ludicrous Pantera-comparisons. With a song being this long, we are naturally greeted with some really slow doom-parts here and there and a spaced-out guitar solo, but on the whole, this is actually the best song that "Down IV, Pt. 1" has to offer. Also, take away the part where I wrote about the song being over 9 minutes, since basically the last 2 minutes consists of silence. That was perhaps a cool touch in 1996, but it's not in 2012.

On the whole, this was a lot more doomier and contained less heavy metal than I thought. This EP could easily have been labelled "stoner metal" in my opinion. A little less stoner, a bit more classic doom-riffing and some more uptempo to vary thing a bit, would have given this a higher rating. But I cannot look past the fact that the members are gifted at what they do. This is not just my cup of tea I guess.


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